Sunday, April 7, 2019

Premature Nostalgia

I haven't even finished my time at UT and I'm already starting to miss it.

I've come to understand that it's an incredible luxury to have someone who is not only an expert in his or her field but also a professional teacher teach you something you want to learn. Where else would I have the opportunity to learn about labor economics from the member of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisors responsible for delivering to him and interpreting for him the monthly jobs numbers? That's just crazy. And yet, I had that opportunity at UT last semester. (Thanks, Professor Black!)

During my economics studies, I've had some great teachers. Not just Sandy Black but also Valerie Bencivenga, Wayne Hickenbottom, Helen Schneider, Steve Trejo, Brian Trinque, and Elon Lang, among others. I'm grateful to them for teaching me all about micro, macro, statistics, econometrics, health, money and banking, labor, and drama (!). I've learned literally more than I ever wanted to know, but I'm glad I did.

I've met some really impressive students who are bound to go on to get success (hi, Akash!). I've also met some who aren't even trying, and are failing. They make me shake my head and wonder why they're even here. I recognize my 20-year-old self in them. Maybe they're bound for success too, but it will be a long, hard road.

Along the way I've developed some strong opinions about economics, which I admittedly hold with the confidence of the novice. More econometrics, less calculus. Don't be so quick to dismiss "tastes and preferences". People are not rational, no matter how elegant your graph is. Economic analysis is a reasonable place to start but is rarely if ever the final word.

But beyond just the education I've received, I appreciate the experience. Sure, it's sometimes been a little awkward to be the 40-something guy in class. But it's been a treat. Universities are environments like no other. Everyone is there to teach or to learn, or to help facilitate that. At least in theory.

The administration is mind-bogglingly complex but works very smoothly. It's a really impressive operation. And the wifi is excellent.

I'm going to miss being a UT student.

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